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HindustanTimes Fri,11 Jul 2014

Mumbai: Gender sensitive classrooms now a part of every school’s agenda

Puja Pednekar , Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 30, 2013
First Published: 09:29 IST(30/8/2013) | Last Updated: 12:27 IST(30/8/2013)

Gone are the days when studying in a single-sex school meant a student would be shy and awkward while interacting with someone from another gender.

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With single-sex schools adopting liberal attitudes and promoting gender sensitivity, students are no longer at a disadvantage when compared to those from co-educational ones.

In fact, schools are also ensuring that students be sensitised to gender so that they understand the inequality in the way people of different genders are treated and can put this to use.

For instance, Alexandra Girls School in Fort, which recently completed 150 years, allows boys from other schools to participate in several programmes that it conducts to encourage healthy interaction.

“We invite students from co-ed schools to participate in events at our school and ensure that girls from our school are also sent out to other schools,” said Freny Mehta, principal of the school.

Mehta said that such interactions were important for those studying in single-sex schools so that they could be as confident as their counterparts in co-ed schools.

“Many girls from our school go to colleges such as Jai Hind College in Churchgate when they pass out from here and have no trouble fitting in,” she said.

The school is also among many others in the city that conduct various awareness programmes and seminars with students on issues related to gender. “There are three counselors on campus whom students can approach about any problems they might be facing,” she added.

At St Stanislaus School in Bandra which is an all-boys institution, teachers said they, too, encouraged students to interact with girls. “We ensure that the boys mingle with students from other schools. Interacting with girls is not an issue since it happens both inside and outside school, on different occasions,” said Father Jude Fernandes, principal of the school.

Fernandes said social networking sites and other social gatherings had made it much easier for students from single-sex schools to make friends with the opposite sex.

“Social networking is so popular these days, that students from singlesex schools do not miss out on anything,” he said.

However, as the interaction increases, schools in the city —both single-sex and co-educational ones—are also trying to sensitise their students about gender and the issues related to it.

Gundecha Academy, a co-ed school in Kandivli, started conducting gender sensitivity programmes for their students after the gangrape and murder of the 23-year-old woman in Delhi in December last year.

These programmes have been revived once again after the recent gangrape of a photojournalist in the city.

“With crimes such as rapes and acid attacks on the rise, it is important that students, both girls and boys, be sensitised when they are young,” said Seema Buch, school principal.

Besides talking to them about gender sensitivity, the school has also introduced self-defence lessons.

“We take them to various shelters so that they can interact with people who have been victims of various crimes. If they encounter a similar crime, they will know how to fight back,” Buch said.


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